Those of you who regularly improvise dungeon delves, burglaries of palaces, city chases, or any sort of similar…

Those of you who regularly improvise dungeon delves, burglaries of palaces, city chases, or any sort of similar…

Those of you who regularly improvise dungeon delves, burglaries of palaces, city chases, or any sort of similar thing: what tricks do you use to make the whole thing coherent? How do you make sure you account for those extra doors, alleyways, and those sorts of logistical things matching up when everything is explored?

I seem to paint myself into corners when I have, say, caves open in three directions and don’t account for enough space for each to expand upon exploration. I don’t know if the players notice, but it bugs me.

8 thoughts on “Those of you who regularly improvise dungeon delves, burglaries of palaces, city chases, or any sort of similar…”

  1. don’t map 1 for 1. only things that get mapped are the interesting bits. the rest, the connections between nodes? ignore them. Most places aren’t like American cities with huge gridded layouts. There may be dozens of routes from A to B and if you don’t know the area like a local, you are likely to take different routes. Name your locations and use a move like: “When you try to reach a specific destination in the maze, roll + Int. The one who is best at solving mazes makes the roll (“Who is that? Why?”) with assistance as appropriate. On a 10+, you reach your destination in good time. On a 7-9 or if you are not trying to reach a specific destination, the GM chooses one from the list below as appropriate:

    •   It takes a long time to reach the destination.

    •   The characters are followed to their destination.

    •   The party ends up back in a place they have been before, but it has been changed.

    •   The group discovers a new area or location.”

  2. I second the Quantum Ogres, they solve every problem.

    But also: dw is a narrative game. It only has to make so much sense, that both you and your players are satisfied. It is much more about the feel of the game than the exact details.

    Possible methods you could use:

    1. As Michael said. Only map interesting parts.

    2. Use a basic map and leave blanks to add if needed. It’s much easier to add to existing fiction than invent on the fly.

    3. Think about modules you can use in whatever place needed and make sure before that they make sense. For example a trap room, a guard room, a riddle room ect. And when you need something interesting add what makes most sense in these moments.

  3. To emphasise the fiction-first and “ad hoc” nature of DW, it can help to ask the players questions such as what they hope to find or why they are heading in that direction when they start wandering down hallways and whatnot.

    If they struggle to answer that, then chances are they’re “exploring for the sake of it” or “mapping out the dungeon”, which doesn’t really line up too well with the purpose/narrative driven style of game that DW facilitates – it’s more at home in a D&D setting.

    If the players don’t have a reason to be exploring, give them one:

    Give them something to find to get past an obstacle, a natural barrier to circumvent, something to follow or find the other end of, or big picture things such as a reason to be making their way to a certain location or a trail to follow…

    The “lines between nodes” approach is great if they want something more tangible and to facilitate backtracking, but don’t sweat the details. If they say that they want to go back to the room with the three pillars, say Ok and perhaps mention something that has changed since they were last there to keep them on their toes.

  4. For your “painting yourself into corners” problem, just grab an extra dimension — a passage leads upwards or downwards, or a strange eldritch archway leads somewhere else entirely.

  5. Christoffer Skuthälla That is always hard to do, because there are infinite different possibilitys what could happen.

    I personally dont worry to much about this stuff while the Session is ongoing. Its mostly flavor and you can take your time between session to think about how the Actions of the Characters influenced the World or their Surroundings. Most of these changes take time (rumors need to spread, opinions need to be made, people in Taverns need to whisper about it) before things are done or actually change in most cases. So don’t worry and take your time. 

  6. Similar to Vincent Shine​ – I have a list of things going on in parts of the world that have involved the PCs and I update that list at the end of a session.

    For instance, there was a small town called Bayford in which a death cult existed. The PCs came in, did their PC thing and made matters worse before accomplishing what they wanted (finding an old library in the cult-controlled area) and leaving. Since then the cult has become more active – digging up local graveyards to raise new cultists, overrunning the town, spreading to the next, etc. When the PCs finally return there, it will be a disaster.

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